Every Wednesday in Baltimore, pizza restaurant Homeslyce hosts a jazz jam from 8-11 p.m. At its location on 336 N. Charles St., professional musician Todd Marcus works with Homeslyce to transform the restaurant into not only an eatery, but a venue with potent live jazz permeating every corner of the room. The sound accompanies the savory smell of the pizza quite well.
On these nights, one never knows when someone at the neighboring table might pull out a trumpet and join the fray of musicians playing in the front of the cozy restaurant. There seems to be a method to the madness, musicians who just met somehow know how to play music with one another. One might equate a jazz jam to a theatrical musical, in which actors happen to know every song and dance to perform in unison. It is the collaborative and improvisational nature of jazz that makes this possible.
“This is a regular weekly jam session, which in jazz is one of the ways in which this music has been shared, passed on, and built community for decades.” Said Marcus having just performed with his bass clarinet in front musicians and customers alike. “I feel a great value in bringing people together and fostering community – this is what I call my jazz community service. I don’t teach but I’m here building that sense of community, supporting younger players and connecting them with established veteran players too. This has been going for over three years now.”
There’s a reason the weekly jam session has sustained itself for so long – Homeslyce has proven itself an excellent location. “This venue is just a really good match for this jam session – we have the front window the musicians play in front of, people walking by on the street see and hear the session and they want to come in,” said Marcus. There is a kind of symbiotic relationship between the jazz jam and the restaurant – musicians are able test their grit, and in return they garner customers. The venue is student friendly as well, with moderate price point of $9 to $25. The skee ball machine and pool table in the back help its already vibrant atmosphere.
A drummer and jazz performance student at Towson University, Brendan Brady feels that attending and performing at jazz jams are a monumental part of his growth as an artist. “A huge part of growing as a musician is learning to play with people of different ages, styles, everything. I’ve grown as a musician here because I feel like I’ve learned to interact and adapt with random people in any musical situation in the moment, which is a huge part of jazz,” said Brady.
The event was a sort of who’s who, drawing highly respected musicians from the area. Present this particular Wednesday, Sept. 5, was prominent double bassist Kris Funn, as well as highly respected and recognized drummer Quincy Phillips. There are not many other places jazz students can play beside musicians of this caliber other than a jazz jam.
The collaborative nature and opportunity to learn from the greats is not lost on students present. “I asked Quincy Phillips some stuff about drums. He’s a great guy I’ve made friends with and he was giving me pseudo lessons,” said Brady.
Also present and playing was a new figure in the Baltimore jazz scene – Sean Jones. Jones, an internationally recognized trumpeter, has just begun his first academic year as the Richard and Elizabeth Case Chair in Jazz Studies at the Peabody Conservatory of the Johns Hopkins University. He invited some of his students to accompany him to the jam session, 12 were able to attend.
“It is crucial to the developing artist to be performing, collaborating, and work shopping with not only their peers, but their mentors in order to get the full range of their artistic education. There is only so much that can be done in the classroom.” Said Jones in an email. “Jam sessions provide an organic place of learning by allowing students to discover for themselves where their deficiencies are as well as their tendencies, both positive and negative.”
By Rohan Mattu
Mosaic artist Loring Cornish has transformed his two Baltimore row homes into shimmering, faith infused, spectacular installations – with floors meticulously covered in coins, chandeliers comprised of discarded colored glass, and a shower of telephones.
Having one home in Fell’s Point, and another near Druid Hill Park, Cornish opens his homes for all to see, as visitors wander through the narrow, shimmering hallways, and see pieces that could have only been painstaking to create, one might wonder “why?”
“My art is a form of my expression to God, “Cornish said. “I became an artist because I wanted to worship God full-time, without any interruptions. Out of my worship came art, it is a by product of my worship to God, that’s how I would explain my art. I never made up in my mind that I was going to be an artist.”
Cornish, who declined to give his age, has always been religious. Raised in Baltimore, his grandfather was a deacon, and his mother instilled her father’s beliefs into her children.
Cornish learned his art through a sick friend in Los Angeles, whom he chose to stay with and take care of.
“As I was taking care of him, he taught me how to do mosaic art at his sick-bed, because I needed something to do as I wouldn’t leave his side,” Cornish said. “That’s how the art got into me, he was the best artist I had ever seen in my life.”
One of Cornish’s core sentiments is that of freedom in its purest form. He tries his best to avoid restraint from others, and he tries his best not to restrain his art.
“I have to continue to be free, I can’t do what other people think should be done. I have to do me, I can’t do structure, my gallery doesn’t work like that,” Cornish said. “It’s important to me that I can worship God the way I want to with my art, whether I’m naked, or fully clothed, or shirtless, or cussing, or whatever. “
Cornish prefers most his time by himself, as he feels most liberated with himself. He wants to be able to turn his music up when he wants to, get out of bed when he wants to, and turn out the light when he wants to. His freedom and solitude is his way of worshipping god full-time, and his unique art is the embodiment of his devotion.
“It’s my freedom to be free as god has made me to be, without the stipulation of what religion or worship looks like.”
By Rohan Mattu
The College of New Jersey, commonly known as TCNJ, held a free concert in Decker Hall on Tuesday night; hosted by the College Union Board, the show included the bands Rhea, Peaer, and Turnover.
TCNJ is known for having shows that cater to the strong alternative scene on their campus and in the surrounding area, thanks to CUB Alt, a branch of the College Union Board dedicated to bringing in Alternative and Indie genre musicians to play at their school, usually free to attend.
The band Rhea is a locally known, self described “bedroom pop” band from New Jersey. They opened up the show with three dynamic, dreamy songs. The lead singer and rhythm guitarist mentioned between songs that this was the biggest show her band had played by far, an audience of about 250.
Peaer followed with five more tunes. Peter Katz, head of the band, acknowledged the honor he took in opening for Turnover, a band from Virginia Beach with millions of listens on each of their songs on Spotify.
Finally, Turnover performed a full set of 10 songs from their latest album, “Peripheral Vision,” a mellow, dulcet collection centered on thinking about the past. Complementing the dreamy music from the bands were colored LED lights flooding the stage, painting the performers red, blue, and purple.
Though the shows are intended to be mainly for TCNJ students and the surrounding area, some travel quite far for the chance to see such a popular band for free. Pocholo Itona, a student from Towson University, traveled over two hours from Baltimore with three friends for the show.
“It’s Tuesday, I have an 8 a.m. class in the morning, and I traveled really far,” Itona said, “but I think it’s worth it to see a band that I’d have to pay over twenty dollars to see anywhere else.”
TCNJ student Alexa Bonoma spoke about the pleasure of having shows that suited her and her friends taste being so easily accessible.
“Because of CUB Alt I can go to shows that play music that I actually like, and not what you hear on the radio,” Bonoma said. “I not only get to see the bands I listen to every day, but it’s on campus, and it’s free.”